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So you want to be an Agile organisation and enable your teams for DevOps . . .

Nov 26, 2019 4:33:02 PM

You have probably heard of Agile and DevOps. You may or may not know what the terms mean or how these ideas can revolutionise your business. This article will talk you through the origin of Agile and DevOps and how their practices, methodologies and culture can benefit your business.

 

What exactly is Agile?

Agile specifically refers to an improved way to develop and release software, using lean principles. The idea is to make the work visual, minimize the work-in-process (WIP), make problems visible, interact frequently with your customer, create empowered teams, and keep the batch sizes (tasks to complete) as small as possible.

The idea of Agile business all began back in 2001. In the Wasatch Range in Utah, seventeen people got together to ski, relax, share ideas and, of course, sample some tasty food. The participants were a group of software developers and programmers who all agreed that a change was needed. They brought their own well-defined methods to the table, including Extreme Programming (XP), SCRUM and Crystal. The meeting culminated in the creation of a manifesto, a response to the need for an alternative to the heavy-weight, documentation-driven software development processes of the time.

Signed by all the participants, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was a symbolic result. The group of independent thinkers named themselves ‘The Agile Alliance.’ Although certain individuals were sometimes competitors to one another, they all agreed on one thing – they felt privileged to work with a group of people who shared similar values and opinions.

At their core, Agile methodologists held values based on trust and respect for each other, promoting models of organisation that are based on people and improving collaboration to build the organisational communities in which they would like to work. The Agile methodology still contains the core values of respect and expedience that was initially established in 2001. For these values to have remained across contexts and time shows how valuable this foundation is in the IT world.

 

Why an Agile organisation?

An Agile organisation (designed for both stability and dynamism) is a network of teams within a people-centered culture that operates in rapid learning and fast decision-making cycles enabled by technology and guided by a powerful common purpose to co-create value for all stakeholders.

When pressure is applied, the Agile organisation reacts by being more than just robust; performance actually improves as more pressure is exerted. Research shows that Agile organisations have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organisational health, the best indicator of long-term performance. Moreover, such companies simultaneously achieve greater customer centricity, faster time to market, higher revenue growth, lower costs and a more engaged workforce.

Organisations in New Zealand that have adopted Agile (and “DevOps”) methodologies in their IT departments report improved speed to market for new solutions. Companies like Spark NZ, who have adopted Agile, are starting to see the benefits throughout the whole organisation. 

 

What exactly is DevOps?

The combination of operations methodology and software development is referred to as DevOps, and it helps in delivering services and applications. DevOps helps create real-time collaboration with ongoing and frequent communication that impacts the workflow of IT operations and developers' teams. The approach in DevOps is to organise the workflow in a manner that allows multiple teams to work with discipline through the implementation of Agile practices and planning, including infrastructure automation, continuous delivery and continuous integration.

The technology community uses various terms to describe DevOps, as it helps to create a set of practices, a philosophy, a movement and a culture that acts using these tools. It also helps to improve and automate imperfect methods involved in the management of difficult systems.

DevOps culture borrows from Agile principles, although there is more focus on quality and service. That is the reason why DevOps practitioners are always managing, deploying, testing, building, operating and designing systems and applications to be more reliable and faster. This way, they manage to create greater value for customers and foster a manageable workflow of continual improvement.

 

Starting the DevOps journey

The DevOps journey starts by exploring the current delivery pipelines and procedures that clearly identify objectives you want in your DevOps implementation plan. You will need to understand these if you want to tackle brownfield or greenfield deployment.

Brownfield deployments: These are harder to implement since they require parallel deployment methods, and generally require broader planned change/downtime to reduce impact on production. Brownfield deployment is like trying to fix a car that is already running on the road.

Greenfield deployments: Built from scratch and easier to implement, these often use automation and other services delivered through cutting-edge deployment methodology. These don’t always impact production until final deployment.

Regardless of your choice, it is important to run a pilot project first. If the objective is to gain faster marketing time, you can focus on moving your product to stricter deadlines. This will allow you to choose an iterative DevOps model that checks out the impact.

Another thing to note: DevOps is not just for the IT team! Many aspects of the business can find new solutions or improvements via a DevOps approach, allowing the designers, implementers and the support/operations teams to work together for a better outcome.

 

Making a DevOps implementation plan

DevOps requires upfront planning to deliver performance. Businesses that implement DevOps without experimenting or testing tend to fail. It is important to remember that the transition to DevOps is focused not only on processes and tools but also on people. In addition to technical processes, organisations must build collaborative power across departments and teams and throughout the organisation. Here are some things you can do:

1. Align various goals for DevOps in your business

When you transition to DevOps, you must focus on cooperative communication. The whole team is working towards a similar goal, and because DevOps helps build a transformative culture, it encourages you to participate in and accept collaborative choices.

There must be honest and candid interactions with participants, as this approach will bring success to the project. Bringing technology can aid communication and continuity in distant locations. Tight collaboration brings a more empathetic culture that will empower operations to accomplish coordination that brings results.

2. Bring some skills and experience to the team

Ensure team members are supported by training or by those who have training and experience in both Agile and DevOps practices. Allow experimentation in these sessions to show the benefits of these approaches and allow innovation.

3. Prepare for a cultural shift

DevOps brings together tools, processes and people all in one place, which helps unify an organisation. The cultural shift brought on by this combination will eventually be the backbone of your DevOps practice, although you will also need to assist this by introducing new procedures and policies.

Successful DevOps is a company-wide movement that starts with top-level management and goes all the way down to the staff. You must ensure that all operations personnel, developers and implementers understand the value that comes to the organisation before you can bring them all to one place. One of the best ways to enable this is by rewarding teams for delivering outstanding customer service.

4. Create a continuous integration and delivery platform

Once everyone is on board, you should shift your attention to the production environment for DevOps, so you can plan an appropriate deployment. This ensures that developers/implementers can focus on coordinated ‘build-and-run’ approaches. In this approach, each team that builds a service or product ‘owns’ that service or product that runs through to production. That DevOps team ‘ownership’ will extend for a period that now includes operation, because a support period is now part of the project, or in some organisations for the lifetime of the service or product.

The DevOps team will include all the key components of service lifecycle, and from there the team will go through maintenance, deployment and planning. To ensure success, the deployment pipeline must roll continuous deployment, testing, development and integration into one entity.

5. Accelerating the deployment pipeline

The DevOps team will affect the release management, which is the final stage of production. A comprehensive understanding of every aspect of the deployment pipeline is necessary here, meaning that reflection, production and discussion cycles become intuitive. If you don’t get a result, it signifies a breakdown in cooperative communication at all points in the deployment pipeline. The whole DevOps team must then work together to rectify that challenge.

6. Give DevOps culture priority over DevOps tools

DevOps operational procedures require support instead of leadership, and the entire process is indicative of the fact that the culture is cooperative. Communications fuel the journey that will take a project to completion. Any organisation that focuses on related automation tools and metrics over the course of communication will fall short when adopting reliable DevOps methods.

 

It’s a long road ahead…

Transitioning from standard project development to Agile and DevOps practices is difficult and involves a comprehensive change in the entire business. The main thing is selecting the right people for the processes and providing them with the best tools. If you follow all the best practices, you’ll be able to create a proper delivery pipeline that follows an outstanding DevOps implementation plan.

Grant

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